By Steven Walters
The Georgia College baseball team opened its season at home this past weekend, going 0-3 against the No. 1 University of Tampa Spartans.
Sophomore pitcher Charlie Hecht started the first game, giving up three earned runs and striking out seven batters in five innings. The Spartans narrowly edged the Bobcats with a final score of 4-3.
Despites the loss, the Bobcats had a couple of bright spots in the lineup.
Centerfielder Logan Mattix went 2-5 with a solo-home-run, a double and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot.
Shortstop Brandon Benson also added to the Bobcat output, going 1-4 with a double and an RBI.
The difference in the game was a solo-home-run by the Spartans second baseman Laz Rivera in the sixth.
The bullpen helped the Bobcats stay in contention with relievers Bryce Bush and Cameron Busby. They went a combined four innings, scattering two hits and one earned run.
Game two was a similar story for the Bobcats. Coach Tom Carty’s squad fell to 0-2 on the year, dropping the second game of the series 6-4.
The Bobcats got the scoring started early thanks to back-to-back lead off walks from Mattix and Benson. Mattix scored on an RBI single by junior first baseman Matthew Miller to push across the game’s first run. A single from redshirt sophomore Brandon Purcell knocked home two more runs to put the Bobcats up 3-1.
In the third, senior second baseman Dylan Cook blasted a solo homerun to left center field, giving the Bobcats the lead again at 4-3.
After the Spartans tied the game in the seventh, the score was 4-4 going into the top of the ninth. The Spartans would push across two runs in the top of the ninth, and the Bobcats would be shut down by the Spartans relief core.
The last game of the weekend looked to be out of reach early, but the Bobcats, down 12-2 in the sixth, resiliently roared back against the nation’s No. 1 team.
The offense, quiet through the first six innings, exploded with a three-run seventh and a seven-run eighth. The Bobcats and Spartans would both score two more in the bottom of the tenth to tie things at 14. After two more Tampa runs in the top half the eleventh, the Bobcat magic finally ran out. The Bobcats dropped their third in-a-row to No. 1 Tampa 16-14.
The weekend’s notables on offense were senior designated hitter Tanner Geisel (2-6, three runs and two RBIs), freshman third baseman Garrett Green (2-6, three RBIs, two runs scored) and Purcell (3-5 with two runs scored, one RBI, one walk and a stolen base).
After the game, Purcell recognized the resilience of the team.
“[We] just [need to] keep playing, keep playing hard, we showed some fight today. [It’s] tough to swallow three losses, but [we need to just] keep playing,” Purcell said.
Coach Tom Carty saw positives in his squad’s 0-3 start.
“First weekend out, so we’ve got a lot of things to work on, we know that, but some guys threw ok out of the bullpen, [and] we showed some offense there late which is good to see,” Carty said.
Cook, although disappointed also took positives from the weekend.
“It felt really good [to be back on the field],” Cook said. “I mean I wish we would’ve won at least one or two of those games, but facing the number one team in the nation, and doing that against them, I think our season is going to be good.”
Next, the Bobcats face Albany State (0-4) Feb. 12-14 in a three-game series at John Kurtz Field.